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  • The Bloody Chamber

  • By: Angela Carter
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage, Emilia Fox
  • Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 181
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 181

A collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories was first published in 1979 and awarded the Cheltenham Festival Literary Prize. This Audible exclusive adaptation is narrated by legendary actors, Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox, who take on different chapters of the audiobook. Among these are 'The Bloody Chamber', 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon', 'The Tiger's Bride', 'Puss in Boots', 'The Erl-King', 'The Snow Child', 'The Lady of the House of Love', 'The Werewolf' and 'Wolf-Alice'.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Intriguing alternatives to well known tales

  • By Ms. L. M. Haynes on 10-07-18

A Beautiful Version of a Timeless Collection

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-19

Years ago, I read The Bloody Chamber aloud to my friends as we did a winter road trip through California and Arizona. In the beaten up old car, they listened entranced to these empowering reinventions of classic fairy tales. My listeners were so magicked they even insisted I carry on reading when we were camped in the snow atop the Grand Canyon. (Eventually the car broke down, the number 666 on our mileometer, and once we’d got over our panic and had it fixed, we were able to chuckle at how fitting it was.) We all agreed then that Angela Carter’s stories read aloud particularly well, they’re so poetic, the language is so carefully crafted and the imagery so evocative. But I am no professional, so to hear these stories read by Emilia Fox and Richard Armitage, both masters of the art, was a real treat. I’d give it 6*s if I could!

Recommended without a single reservation.

  • An Anonymous Girl

  • By: Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan, Barrie Kreinik
  • Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive, and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr Shields may know what she’s thinking...and what she’s hiding. As Jess’ paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what is real in her life and what is one of Dr Shields’ manipulative experiments.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Don't miss this

  • By Konstantinos on 01-01-19

Totally implausible but great fun

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-19

A rollicking good story about a young woman who gets sucked into a manipulative psychiatrist’s web of mind games. It’s chock full of hyperbole (endless cliffhangers, twists and situations causing adrenal gland overdrive) but no less entertaining for it. Recommended.

  • Nutshell

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 748
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 679
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 675

Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master. To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour, is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hamlet From The Womb

  • By Simon on 01-09-16

Not McEwan's best, by a significant margin

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-12-18

Other listeners have loved this, but it left me thinking McEwan is no Shakespeare. Granted, he has a splendid vocabulary and can pun and play like few others, but it made me consider that Hamlet’s greatness is surely largely because WS has us gunning for him as a protagonist, we feel his pain and conflict, in short, we empathise. ‘Nutshell’ on the other hand, has not a single empathetic character. (Others, including you, dear review reader, may not mind this. I do. I found Elizabeth Day’s brilliantly written The Party left me cold for the same reason.)

The unborn child’s voice in Nutshell is utterly self centred (as a foetus would be, granted) and lacks much nuance. He is as greedy and angry and as thoroughly unpleasant as his mother and uncle. I found it a bitter, nihilistic piece of writing, depressing in its world view and misanthropic in its portrayal of character. Because we know roughly what’s going to happen much narrative drive is also lost, and I came away thinking it was an interesting idea that doesn’t, overall, work. But other readers disagree so if you’re torn, I suggest you sample the start to see if it appeals.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Queen of Bloody Everything

  • By: Joanna Nadin
  • Narrated by: Kelly Hotten
  • Length: 12 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 607
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 574
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 573

As Edie Jones lies in a bed on the 14th floor of a Cambridge hospital, her adult daughter, Dido, tells their story, starting with the day that changed everything. That was the day when Dido - aged exactly six years and 27 days old - met the handsome Tom Trevelyan, his precocious sister, Harry, and their parents, Angela and David.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insightful and intelligent, witty and honest

  • By Lu on 21-04-18

A wonderful listen, I loved it

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-12-18

As the daughter of an artist mother (though mine, thank goodness, is not the lush that Edie is and is still trucking, if slowly, at 85), I grew up in the 70s, so this struck a chord from the off. Given my brothers work in tv news, am a writer, have lived with an alcoholic - hell, I’ve even my very own Tom - it’s probably not surprising. But that The Queen of Bloody Everything so relatable is not down to this string of coincidences, not at all. It’s that Joanna Nadin has created such a relatable protagonist in Dido that many readers will hear echoes of their own experiences throughout. My brother and sister-in-law also loved it, and if you like your novels warm, witty and wise, chances are The Queen of Bloody Everything will have your name on it as well.

  • This Is Going to Hurt

  • Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
  • By: Adam Kay
  • Narrated by: Adam Kay
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 8,928
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8,144
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 8,116

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well written, Well told

  • By The_Animagus on 23-09-17

An important message about the NHS

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-12-18

It's almost impossible to listen to a book which has been so widely praised and done so well without raised expectations and humour is a very personal thing. This is probably largely why, over two hours in, I felt baffled not to be enjoying the book more. The anecdotes seemed tonally flat and same-y, and I felt uncomfortable, not because I'm squeamish, but because I had some sense this Kay seemed to be laughing at, rather than with, his patients. Every reader and listener brings their own subjective interpretation to every book, and others haven't found this, so I may be alone here, or it maybe because the book started life as a stand-up show. Nonetheless I found myself thinking: I’m glad I’ve not been his patient. However, I continued listening - it's not a long book - and it was worth doing so, because the last chunk is raw in its honesty and passionately written. As well as explaining why he left the profession, Kay delivers an extremely important message about valuing the NHS and those who work for it with the conviction only someone who has been on the front line can deliver. The glib and occasionally arrogant writing for laughs disappears to be replaced something more sincere and heartfelt. Finally, the interview with Mark Watson is an enjoyable addition to the audio; I have worked with the editor they talk of, and their affectionate comments about her made me smile in recognition.

  • Conundrum

  • By: Jan Morris
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 5 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

This remarkable memoir is the classic account of the transgender journey. It is all the more extraordinary because it is the life story of a figure who, it seemed, seamlessly and publicly charted a course through the English establishment - James Morris, outstanding journalist, historian and travel writer, famed for a peerless writing style. But all the while he was concealing a very different inner world: from the age of four he felt that, despite his body, he was really a girl.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tears

  • By ci on 12-04-18

Hugely enjoyable, illuminating and witty

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-18

Whilst some of the author's views may grate to the 21st century ear, by and large this book is as relevant today as when it was published in the '70s, arguably more so, as trans issues are such a hot topic right now. Listen to it for an insight of one person and to gain understanding, by all means, but also listen to it for its wonderful prose. It’s a gem of a book, beautifully read, and can be devoured within a couple of days - I sped through, chuckling often.

  • The Secrets You Hide

  • By: Kate Helm
  • Narrated by: Emma Powell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice. But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A rich, rewarding novel full of twists, painterly detail and compelling characters

  • By Sarah Rayner on 14-10-18

A rich, rewarding novel full of twists, painterly detail and compelling characters

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-10-18

So much more than psychological thriller, The Secrets You Hide is a wonderful example of storytelling, rich with character and a sense of place, with a fascinating and original premise. Perhaps it should come as no surprise therefore, to learn it’s not a novel by a first time author; we may not know the name ‘Kate Helm’ but this is in fact the first in its genre by Kate Harrison, author of the ‘Secret Shopper’ series, as well as the ‘’Soul Beach’ YA trilogy. Some readers (myself included) may also be familiar with her ‘5/2’ series of fasting / healthy eating books.

’The Secrets You Hide’ is like none of these however, it’s the pacy tale of Georgia, a court room artist with a tragic past, who starts to see mysterious figures - initially a small boy - which no one else can and then gets caught up in investigating a series of crimes many miles from her Brighton home in the eerie Forest of Dean. The reason for her ‘second sight’ proves fascinating, and from the outset I was on her side, sympathising with her frustrations and fury.

On audio the book is narrated beautifully with the voiceover adopting different voices for each character, and had me listening at every opportunity - finally finishing it at 2am this morning. I absolutely loved it, and recommend it not just to those who enjoy thrillers but also fans of contemporary fiction who are looking for something a bit different. In this respect the cover - which I like - perhaps doesn’t say as much as it could; this book is more colourful in terms of character and complex in themes than the monotones suggest. But that’s a moot point, I’d just say don’t hesitate to give it a go, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • All the Good Things

  • By: Clare Fisher
  • Narrated by: Emily Atack
  • Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 55

Twenty-one-year-old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again. But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1 to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head. But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing. What is the truth hiding behind her crime?

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Extremely Boring

  • By Rory on 30-03-18

Empathetic and moving

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-09-18

A slow start nearly had me abandon this novel, but wow, I'm glad I didn't.

From the off we know that Beth, the young protagonist, is in prison, but not why. However, rather than focus on the 'bad thing' that got Beth incarcerated, Claire Fisher shows how the cards are stacked against those with a background such as hers. We start with Beth's childhood in care, learn her mother had mental health difficulties, and so it's explained how she becomes a young person with a tendency to alienate others by acting out, and much, much more. Working with a counsellor, Beth explores the 'good things' that have also made up her life, and overall picture painted is very poignant and believable - all the more so as I lived for many years in the stretch of South London (Streatham, Brixton, Stockwell) where the novel is set and it was so vivid that at times I felt I was stomping round shrieking and behaving badly with Beth and her friends.

A very impressive debut written with heart and intelligence, I look forward to more from this author.

  • Our House

  • By: Louise Candlish
  • Narrated by: Deni Francis, Paul Panting
  • Length: 12 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,388
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,283
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,278

When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blindsided. Trinity Avenue has been her family's home for years. Where are all their belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared. The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been destroyed by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Really good story

  • By Rory on 12-08-18

More twists than a cane of barley sugar

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-09-18

'Our House' opens with wife Fi arriving home to find strangers moving into her house in South London; a £2m property on Trinity Avenue that she and her husband bought for a quarter that sum. She rapidly learns that Bram has sold her home from under her, and we follow the couple as each takes turns to tell the story of how they got there. At first I thought <i>who gives a monkeys?</i> about this self-satisfied duo but, like all good novels, 'Our House' doesn't give away all its secrets at the start, and is more nuanced than that. Even if it sometimes stretches credulity, it’s a great bit of storytelling, and gets better the further in you listen. In enjoyed it, and the end had me clapping in surprise.

  • This Naked Mind

  • Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life
  • By: Annie Grace
  • Narrated by: Annie Grace
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 268
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 235
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 233

Millions of people worry that drinking is affecting their health, yet are unwilling to seek change because of the misery and stigma associated with alcoholism and recovery. They fear drinking less will be boring, difficult and involve deprivation, and significant lifestyle changes. This Naked Mind offers a new solution. Packed with surprising insight into the reasons we drink, it will open your eyes to the startling role of alcohol in our culture.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow just wow

  • By Anonymous User on 16-01-18

Promotes ABSTENTION, not CONTROL!

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-09-18

Many have praised this book and with good reason. It’s well researched on the negative impact of drinking, both physically and mentally, so there is a lot about the book that is interesting and illuminating. It's also good at unpicking the failings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I liked its positivity about living alcohol free.

Unfortunately for me it didn’t deliver as a whole. Firstly, I feel that the title is misleading; ‘control alcohol’ suggests it’s going to help a drinker to moderate intake, but in the end the author advocates giving alcohol up altogether. Because I came to the book as someone who drinks a bit too much but not way too much, hoping it might help reduce my intake from around 25 units a week to 14, I found this irksome. I didn't want to give up drinking and I still don't. Half way through This Naked Mind I realised I was reading a book where the content didn’t match the way it was pitched. Like Annie Grace, I am a writer and for many years worked in marketing, and whilst I can appreciate ‘control alcohol’ will appeal to a broader readership than a ‘give up alcohol’ message, I came away feeling I had been misled.

I also found it jarring that the author describes herself as ‘a moderate drinker’ but says she was drinking ‘two bottles of wine a night’ prior to stopping, which isn’t my definition of ‘moderate’ - far from it! Nor was I convinced that she is a hoot sober. Grace may well be great company and funny (she claims to be both), but here perhaps the book might have benefited from more ‘show’ and less ‘tell’ - as it stands the writing isn't witty. In particular there is no irony and as a Brit I longed for some.

Perhaps most crucially of all, I was not persuaded by the notion of ‘cognitive dissonance’ as a motivation for abstention. As I understand it, the argument is that we are mentally distraught because we know alcohol has many negative effects overall, yet we are still drawn to drinking because we are conditioned to do so. I don’t disagree that western society heavily promotes drink, and I agree that we drink because we believe it is going to relax us and make us feel sexy, witty etc. However for many individuals the relationship with alcohol (as with other drugs) is very complex; it’s frequently used to numb anxiety, depression, grief and so on, and giving up may leave us very exposed other fronts. Being 'naked' all the time mentally is not that easy. Grace touches on these motivations but only lightly, whereas in my experience key to overcoming dependence is tackling these issues too. I’ve lost a partner to alcohol - he could not overcome these demons - and I can’t see that the cognitive dissonance argument is one that would have helped him to stop.

Furthermore, whilst perhaps there is something I failed to grasp, I believe living with cognitive dissonance is part of life. Uncertainty, ambiguity and conflicting responses to people, circumstances, experiences - in fact just about everything - are inevitable - not everything can be ironed out to resolve any sense of incoherence or discomfort. Otherwise it strikes me that we end up with a very black and white world, where anything that doesn’t make sense cognitively is ‘wrong’. Accepting conflicting parts of ourselves seems healthier and more pragmatic; I accept I have conflicting feelings about alcohol, just as I accept that I have conflicting emotions about my mother, my desire for chocolate and pros and cons of driving a car. I even have conflicting feelings about this book - part of me wants to give it 4 stars, part of me 2, so I’ve ended up with a compromise and given it 3!

20 of 23 people found this review helpful